b. 08/05/1920 Kasauli, India. d. 09/07/1944 Taungni, Burma
Frank Gerald Blaker (1920-1944) was born at Kasauli, Punjab, India, on 8th May 1920, the son of Captain Blaker, who had served in Mesopotamia in World War I as a surgeon in the Royal Army Medical Corps. At the end of the war, Captain Blaker joined the Indian Medical Department and served as a civilian officer at the Kasauli Pasteur Institute in 1920, the Rangoon Pasteur Institute from 1921-1926, Mandalay General Hospital from 1926-1927, and Director of the Vaccine Institute Meikteila from 1928-1940. In 1940 Captain Blaker retired and the family moved to Kenya. When his father was stationed in Burma, Frank Blaker attended a number of schools, including the American Methodist School in Mandalay, St Paul’s School, Darjeeling, and the Government English High School, Maymyo.
By the mid 1930s, he was already a natural and accomplished sportsman, interested in the jungle and wildlife and fond of shooting. From 1937 to 1939 Frank Blaker was a boarder at Taunton School before joining the Somerset Light Infantry in March 1940, followed in 1941, by a commission in the Highland Light Infantry. At the end of 1941, he left the UK for India and in May 1942 joined the 3rd Battalion, 9th Gurkha Rifles, which then formed part of the 4th Indian Infantry Brigade of 26th Indian Division. The Division was operating in the Arakan with the object of containing any Japanese advance into India from that quarter.
In July 1943 when the Battalion was based at Taung Bazaar, Blaker, then commanding “C” Company, was sent to investigate Japanese activity in a village five miles to the south. During the ensuing engagement and at the end of a two mile chase, 16 Japanese had been killed and three wounded prisoners taken. The latter included the first Japanese officer to be captured in the Arakan. For this action, Captain Blaker was awarded the MC.
On 5th July 1944, 3/9th GR marched along the Salman Chaung under the western slopes of Hill 2171, a jungle-covered spur which stood above Taunghi. Here the Japanese were determined to make a stand. By 6th July a path had been cleared to the summit and on 9th July, “B” and “C” Companies were given the task of taking the crest of the hill.
Major Blaker was commanding a company which was held up during an important advance by close-range firing from medium and light machine-guns. The major went ahead of his men through very heavy fire and despite being severely wounded in the arm, located the machine-guns and charged the position alone. Even when mortally wounded he continued to cheer on his men whilst lying on the ground. His fearless leadership inspired his men to storm and capture the objective. His last words, relayed to Captain Sweetman by the Havildar Major were “Thank “C” Company for all they have done for me. Tell them that I have gone from them, but they must go on fighting to the end.”
His VC was gazetted on 26th September 1944, and he was buried in Taukkyan War Cemetery on the outskirts of Rangoon, Burma. His VC medal group including the VC, MC, 1939-45 Star, Burma Star 1939-45, Defence Medal 1939-45, and War Medal 1939-45 are held by the Blaker family, though a replica group is displayed at the Gurkha Regimental Museum, Winchester, Hampshire.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: HELD BY FAMILY.
BURIAL PLACE: TAUKKYAN WAR CEMETERY, BURMA.
Cemetery Plan courtesy of Kevin Brazier
GRAVE 6 E 2
Memorial Gates, Constitution Hill
Blaker's replica medals on display at The Gurkha Museum (Thomas Stewart)